Commemorative plate | Spode, England, ca. 1822 | © Hong Kong Maritime Museum

Commemorative plate

Object TitleCommemorative plate
OriginSpode, England
Dateca. 1822
MaterialStone china
Dimensionsdiameter 25.7 cm
CollectionHong Kong Maritime Museum
Accession No.HKMM2013.0040.0001

This plate carries the arms of the Honourable East India Company, together with its motto Auspicio Regis et Senatus Angliae (‘By right of the King and the Senate of England’). Established in 1600, the first English East India Company was formed to pursue trade with maritime Southeast Asia. It eventually came to dominate half of the world’s trade. In 1698, its name was changed to the Honourable East India Company and in 1709 a new coat of arms, shown on this plate, was adopted.

Armorial porcelains like this plate were a major component of the global trade in porcelain for centuries, beginning with blue-and-white dishes made in Jingdezhen for export to Portugal in the 1540s. Britain was a major consumer of armorial porcelain from China, accounting for over half of the total amount of armorial porcelain produced before the entry of America into the China trade in 1784. By the eighteenth century, British porcelain manufactories were also producing such wares. This plate may have been part of a larger service ordered from the Spode factory by the East India Company in 1822 or 1823, for use in the company’s factory in Canton (Guangzhou). A banner on the reverse reads ‘The London’, after the ship which brought the ceramics to China in 1824.